PORT ALLEN — West Baton Rouge Parish and Port Allen voters both get a chance to decide in the Oct. 22 election whether bars and nightclubs in the parish and city will remain open past 10 p.m. on Sundays.
The West Baton Rouge Parish Council voted 8-1 in May to ban barrooms from staying open past 10 p.m. on Sundays despite protests from business owners who said Sunday is their busiest night of the week.
The parish’s ban took effect June 16, but the Parish Council had to backtrack one week later because of legal issues.
At the Parish Council’s request, Parish President Riley “Pee Wee” Berthelot issued an executive order on June 23 lifting the ban.
The change came about, Berthelot said, when parish officials discovered that although they could make bars and nightclubs stop selling alcohol after 10 p.m., they lacked legal authority to force the establishments to close their doors at that time.
“We can’t make them close without a vote of the people,” Berthelot said this week.
The issue of Sunday liquor sales came up in response to two shootings and several other violent incidents at parish bars earlier this year, Berthelot has said.
The Port Allen City Council also took up the issue this year after the parish acted.
The City Council, which already has an ordinance in place prohibiting liquor sales after 10 p.m. on Sundays, decided in July to put a proposition on the Oct. 22 ballot in anticipation of a possible challenge to the city ordinance.
“We need to cover our bases,” Mayor R.J. Loupe said at the time.
Mayor Pro-Tem Ralph Bergeron said this week that residents who live along La. 1 have long complained of fights and other disturbances on Sunday nights associated with certain bars.
“People from East Baton Rouge, knowing our clubs stay open late, come over here and sometimes they don’t act right,” Bergeron said.
“People have every right to be concerned,” he said. “This is a chance to let the people decide.”
Both the city and parish ballot propositions say the sale of all alcoholic beverages on Sundays must stop and the businesses that serve alcohol shall close at 10 p.m. on Sundays and may not reopen until 6 a.m. on Mondays.
If city and parish voters approve the Sunday night liquor sales restrictions, they would not apply to Super Bowl Sunday, a Sunday followed by Memorial Day, Labor Day, the Fourth of July, New Year’s Day, or if the Fourth of July Falls on a Sunday.
Early voting in the Oct. 22 primary election runs from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily except Sundays starting this Saturday and extending through Oct. 15.